As I sat on the promenade of a small beach in Co. Clare last weekend, a tiny minivan roared unexpectedly onto the scene. ‘UL Wolves’ was painted in wobbly blue letters, and the whole thing had seen better days. The ramshackle vehicle was piled high with a rainbow of overflowing kayaks in all shapes and sizes, and swayed dangerously in the stiff breeze. The slightly off key rendition of The Saw Doctor’s ‘N17’ died away as the door slid open. Out poured an assortment of students of all shapes and sizes. There were tall, and small, dark and fair, athletic and plump. Like a clown car, the people just kept coming, till a jabber of students filled the pathways, talking and laughing. It was a small but cheering example of just how much having a hobby in college can change your life.
From the half zip loving GAA heroes of Froebel, to the mysterious cello player in the Maynooth common room, we all have individual hobbies that grow to define who we are. Clubs and socs are a great way to meet people who like the things you like. Chances are you’ll have more in common than you think. That chance meeting in the main Sports Hall will grow to include inside jokes, nods and winks, and maybe even a bromance. Soon enough you’ll be bopping along to the same tunes in the Roost and scoping out the same girl from yoga soc. But if you prefer sitting at home with Pot Noodles on a Thursday night, there may still be hope for you.
A common misconception about hobbies is that they are all sports related. Yet this year alone MSU boasts 74 different societies that cover a range of topics, from the traditional, tea and trad music, to the unusual, such as Chinese or chemistry. Some societies are even free to join, and many are laid back and relaxed about meetings. Participation in a club or society whether in college or out can be attractive to many employers, as it shows you have enthusiasm and people skills. Even if your true passion is for the free AGM pizza.
Because college has no clear boundaries between work hours and free time, it can be easy to fall into a cycle of sleep, Netflix and alcohol. Other students (third years, we’re looking at you) find it difficult to give themselves any free time. While we might always feel that we have to be on the alert for the next assignment, having a hobby encourages you to indulge yourself in your own interests. Ultimately the aim of many of these clubs is to grow as a person, and to turn your past-time into something productive. Sometimes the real achievement of clubs and socs is to help a fresh-faced first year find their feet, or inject some school spirit into the cynical second years and tired out third years.